Under the Dome

Two interesting agenda items were presented to council, in-camera, since my last column. The following were appended to council meeting minutes:

Following the November 23 regular council meeting, an in-camera council meeting was convened during which council moved to “… extend … January 1, 2013 Lease Agreement between the District of Lantzville and the Seaside Community Society [SCS] for the Community Hall and Heritage Church for a term of two years to conclude on December 31, 2017 …”.  This is an interesting motion as, to be the best of my knowledge, SCS did not meet with council to discuss the extension of the lease though SCS did meet with staff to express an interest in extending the lease.  I have to admit that some council proceedings are a mystery to me.

On December 7, a special meeting of council was held (meaning closed to the public) during which council appointed Joy Tretick to the Parks and Recreation Commission.  For your information, there are additional vacancies on the Commission.  Council held another closed meeting on December 14 during which council may have filled those positions.  Again, unfamiliar with the ways of council, I do not understand why appointments are made at a closed council meeting.  What reason could exist that the public is not allowed to know who has volunteered to sit on the Commission but only know who was appointed to the Commission.  I will have to follow up with staff to understand this policy.

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December 14th Council Meeting

Before I begin this column, I have to say that after attending the recent council meeting which lasted 2.5 hours, I cannot wait for the installation of microphones in the meeting room.  I sat in the front row and still had a hard time hearing the conversations between councillors. 

The Mayor introduced the newly hired community planner, Frank Limshue.  I was surprised as I do not remember an announcement on the DOL website.  The Mayor did not indicate when Frank had started in his new job or expand on his experience.  When you “google” Frank, you will find information regarding his work experience.  Welcome Frank! 

Andre Sullivan and Leslie Anderson, from the Nanaimo Economic Development Corp. (NEDC), presented an overview of the mission of the NEDC and the benefits of tourism marketing.  Recent statistics indicate 3,125 residents in Lantzville are over the age of 15 and of that number, 1,140 residents have indicated they are not looking for work which confirms that a large number of working aged residents (37%) are retired.

The next presentation was made by Rob Hoffman of Koers & Associates and Fred Spears, director of Public Works DOL.  Their presentation was a summary of historical water studies from 1972 through present day.  I have to say that there should have been a time limit on this presentation.  I wonder why this oral presentation was made during a council meeting.  To save everyone some time (presentation and discussion lasted approximately 45 minutes), is it not possible for council to read the information before the meeting started and then ask questions of Rob and Fred, of which there were several?  There is nothing more boring than to listen to someone read PowerPoint slides.  Maybe the presentation was made in this fashion because council required the information to be read into the minutes.  I wonder why the slides that covered the presentation were not published on the DOL website? 

Next on the agenda, correspondence from Lance Geselbracht was received for information purposes.  The correspondence presented a review of the hydrogeologist report for the Harby Road extraction wells.  Councillor Haime stated her appreciation of the correspondence and moved to direct staff to provide answers to Lance’s question for a council meeting in January.  I am looking forward to learning more on this topic.

After addressing a few other agenda items, the meeting moved to new business.  Councillor Geselbracht put forward a motion “… that the building, referred to locally as the Heritage Church…be renamed “Lantzville Heritage Hall”… and … “Council directs staff to work with SCS and the Woodgrove Community Christian Church to remove … the large wooden cross … and the wooden sign …”.  Needless to say, the discussion was interesting to me as I am a director of SCS and the motion might affect SCS and the rental of the church building.  I wonder how many residents realize the DOL owns the church building and not the Woodgrove Community Christian Church group?  Councillor Geselbracht spoke to the motion including a statement that one rental group should not have a prominent sign in front of a DOL building.  Councillor Haime did not support this motion indicating she had spoken with SCS [wasn't me] at which time the SCS spokesperson suggested council should have contacted SCS before putting forth the motion.  Councillor Haime suggested a sign be erected with all the tenants who rent the church building be listed on the sign.  That is an interesting thought.  SCS has been waiting for over 14 months to have a new permanent sign erected in front of Costin Hall and, to this day, there has been no approvals only minor discussions between DOL and SCS.  Councillor Geselbracht suggested the proposed new sign for Costin Hall could include the names of the church building renters.  I do not think the sign was intended to list renters’ names but to announce the various activities scheduled at Costin Hall.  Councillor Colcough stated the building was not a church – the building may look like a church but it was not a church.  Councillor Neary moved to split the motion, separating the motion to rename the church building and to remove of the cross/sign as she was not supportive of the name change for the church building.  Councillor Haime suggested a public hearing be held for renaming the church building.  Why would you need a public hearing for a name change?  Does the majority of the residents even know the building has a ‘name’?  I didn’t know the building had a name when I moved here last year plus I thought the building was owned by the church group?!?  Councillor Colcough suggested that DOL needed to determine the future of the church building and Costin Hall.  Now I think that is a good idea but I hope this happens sooner than later.  I might have the wrong impression of council but whenever anything controversial is on the agenda, council moves slowly.  The residents voted the councillors to make decisions therefore the councillors need to make decisions!  The discussion continued with the defeat of the motion to change the name but the approval of the motion to remove the cross and church sign.  Councillors took 30 minutes to discuss these motions. 

Public participation got a little heated when Mr. Halliwell stood up and said “.. disgusting and insensitive motion…the DOL does not own the church building, the taxpayers do..total blasphemy…go to the public…”.   Mr. Halliwell suggested separate management for the church building and for Costin Hall as he would not want to have non-residents making decisions regarding the rental of the church building.  I wonder who would step up to manage the church building? 

This council meeting was 2.5 hours in length – my hand was tired from making notes.  Maybe I should watch council meetings on YouTube!

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Unfortunately, I was not able to attend the Strategy Sessions held on Dec 21 and 22 though Councillor Coulson has posted 6 hours of video tapings on YouTube for your bedtime viewing.

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Kudos to Mayor and Councillors

As the year comes to its end, it is time to reflect on the activities of council.  It was an uncomfortable year with staff and council resignations.  It was this political upheaval that prompted me to be a candidate in the by-election and to write this column.  I hope that 2016 will bring a new attitude on how council governs itself and how staff works through its priorities.  I hope that all residents will support council.  Remember council can please some of the residents all of the time, can please all of the residents some of the time, but cannot please all of the residents all of the time.

My New Year’s resolution – to figure out how a printed newsletter can be produced so that all residents are aware of community events.  Is there anyone out there that would be interested in producing a newsletter?  If so, please contact me.

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I was pleased to read, in the Nanaimo Bulletin, edition December 3, 2015, that Nanaimo Chapters has gifted the Seaview Elementary School with $5,000 cash and $6,000 in new books through its Indigo Adopt a School program.  Solveig Davie, Seaview teacher-librarian had noticed the library was out-of-date when she started at the school in 2014.  A big ‘hats off’ to Chapters and local residents who donated to the program.

Season Greetings

Under the Dome

Joan Moody

Posted in January 2016, Under the Dome
One comment on “Under the Dome
  1. Elizabeth Aitken says:

    Dear Joan: thank you for your “Under the Dome” newsletter. I am unable to attend the council meetings as I am overbooked in too many ways now. BUT I did not read it until I had sent a letter of annoyance to the council. Being a resident and a member of the Woodgrove Community Church I am fully aware that the Woodgrove church rents the building for church useage. We have in the past several years received slanderous letters sent out by Canada Post with the intent to drive the church away from the community. Out of that era our Pastor left us to do work in another community. I wrote a letter when the Lantzville Log was in existence stating we were renting and a bit of history for the local community on the Reform Church of America and their website. I guess what I was upset about — that the church was not told until the week of removal that it was happening. I, personnally, drove by to see the cross being removed after 10 years in place. Which was my first knowledge of the removal. It was hard. I know there is all sorts of history on this and I could go on for a long time on this but my point is I really am glad you are taking the time to do this log. Elizabeth Aitken

    Copy of letter sent:
    As a member of this community I am writing to you to express my displeasure of the council as a whole for the way they handled the removal of the Christian cross at the front of the building commonly known as Lantzville Heritage Church (now the Heritage Hall of Lantzville) as well as the sign placed by the renters for information. The Church presently renting the Heritage Hall as well as the rental agency Seaside … were given no opportunity for input on this decision. The agency Seaside, I believe, had about two weeks notice; the renters less than one week.

    This Christian Cross has been in front of the heritage building for over 10 years and suddenly it has become an embarrassment to the community… at least the council of this community. To me it is a symbol of peace, hope, and forgiveness which reminds the community of its roots.

    I am glad that the St. Phillips Church owns their property so that you may not require the removal of their cross. I understand that this building is no longer considered a church within this community and for that I am sad. I had believed that it was built as a church for the residents of Lantzville and that the building was originally designated as a Heritage Church.

    As council has decided that it is no longer a church but a municipal building that the community owns and therefore the council may do as it pleases with no input from the community people affected — so be it.

    I would like to acknowledge that your Chief Administrative Officer, Brad McRae, was very respectful when I arrived at the Town Hall extremely upset with the Council’s actions.

    For the information of the council as a whole a Cross is a Christian symbol of forgiveness and so I forgive. May the Heritage Hall be a joy to this community.

    Elizabeth Aitken,
    Resident of Lantzville, 7542 Lantzville Road
    Member of Woodgrove Community Church

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